2017 American Express Platinum Card Review – WalletHub
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The Verdict: The American Express Platinum Card actually costs more than its weight in platinum. Standard plastic credit cards such as Amex Platinum tend to weigh about 5 grams each, you see, and platinum was priced a bit over $31 per gram as of Jan. 27, 2017. That equates to roughly $157, or a little over one-third of the Amex Platinum Card’s $450 annual fee. While this card is therefore unquestionably expensive, the ultimate question still remains: Is it worth it?
It is if you are a frequent traveler who pays his or her bill in full every month and can take full advantage of complimentary airport-lounge access and hotel rewards status. Anyone who can afford to spend $3,000 over a three-month period can benefit from the card’s 40,000-point initial bonus, after all, but you need a full travel itinerary and the right type of accommodation preferences for this card to be worthwhile beyond the first year. The fact that it’s a charge card means you won’t be able to finance any purchases, either. If you don’t pay your bill in full one month, you will get hit with a $38 late fee and won’t be able to make any new purchases until your balance is paid.
As a result, the Amex Platinum Card isn’t an everyday credit card, nor is it ideal for most people. But if you have excellent credit, a penchant for travel and a liberal budget, it’s at least worth a closer look given its assorted accoutrements.
- 40,000-Point Initial Bonus: Spending $3,000 during the first three months your account is open will earn you 40,000 bonus points, redeemable for $400 in gift cards or travel purchased through American Express. You have other redemption options, to be sure, but those two methods provide the most value.
- $200 Annual Airline Credit: Each year, you stand to receive up to $200 in statement credits to cover “incidental” air travel expenses, such as baggage fees and the cost of in-flight refreshments. All you have to do is designate an airline of choice, and you will be automatically credited for eligible charges assessed by that airline as they post to your account.
- Complimentary Hotel Status: As an Amex Platinum cardholder, you will have the ability to enroll in Hilton’s HHonors Rewards program as a Gold-level member for free, without having to meet the spending requirements to which other consumers are subject. Ordinarily, HHonors Gold membership costs at least $2,880 per year, based on Hilton's minimum stay requirements and average daily room rate.
- Credit Of Up To $75 With Qualifying Hotel Stays: If you book a reservation for at least two nights at a participating hotel through the American Express travel portal, you will automatically receive a room upgrade, if available, and a discount of up to $75 for expenses incurred during your stay. This excludes the cost of your room, taxes and fees.
Free Access To Airport Lounges: The American Express Platinum Card is your ticket to preflight leisure, providing complimentary access to over 900 airport lounges worldwide. It provides automatic entry to the American Express Centurion Lounge – which has locations in New York (La Guardia), Dallas, San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas, Miami and Houston – as well as the Airspace Lounge (four locations) and the Delta Sky Club (51 locations available to Platinum cardholders). It also gives you the option of joining Priority Pass Select, which features more than 1000 lounges, at no cost.
Ordinarily, without the Platinum Card, a one-time pass to a Centurion Lounge costs $50 and is only available to American Express cardholders. Airspace Lounge and Delta Sky Club charge a minimum of $20 and $59, respectively, and you’d have to pay a $99 annual fee just for the privilege of shelling out another $27 per visit to a Priority Pass Select location.
Up To 2 Points Per $1 Spent: The American Express Platinum Card’s regular rewards earning rate is perhaps its least exciting benefit, providing only the market average of 1 point per $1 spent on most purchases made with the card, yet it is a benefit nonetheless. After all, you also get 2 points per $1 spent on the American Express travel website, and 5 points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with an airline, provided that you have enrolled in Amex’s Membership Rewards program.
One thing to note, however, is that rental-car reservations and non-prepaid hotel reservations are for some reason specifically excluded from earning double points. That could potentially loom large, depending on your travel preferences.
- $450 Annual Fee: The Platinum Card from American Express has one major weakness: its prodigious cost. Only four of the more than 1,000 credit cards tracked by WalletHub charge more than Platinum’s $450 annual fee: the UBS Preferred Visa Signature Card ($495), the MasterCard® Black Credit Card ($495), the MasterCard® Gold Credit Card ($995) and the famed Centurion Card from American Express ($2,500). In short, the Platinum Card comes at a very hefty cost, which you should think long and hard about having to pay before you submit an application.
- No Financing Capabilities: While inherent to Amex Platinum’s nature as a charge card, the fact that you must pay your bill in full every month in order to continue making purchases with this card does limit its versatility relative to a “normal credit card.” And since you figure to be paying so much to use this card to begin with, every bit of lost functionality matters.
Other Things To Consider
- No Preset Spending Limit: It doesn’t mean you don’t have a limit. Rather, this card’s No Preset Spending Limit (NPSL) feature means that Amex determines your limit on a monthly basis, based on your recent spending and payment habits and the economic climate. Unfortunately, you won’t be privy to this information, and without a clear limit in mind, you could find yourself at the wrong end of a declined transaction – perhaps even in an emergency situation when traveling.
No Foreign Transaction Fees: More and more credit cards are scrapping foreign transaction fees, as evidenced by the fact that the average foreign surcharge has declined by almost 22% from 2011 through 2016, according to WalletHub’s Credit Card Landscape Report. Amex Platinum is among the cards that lack such a fee. And while that should be expected from a card catered to luxury travel, the ability to save the market average of 1.97% on every purchase processed abroad could nevertheless prove to be quite valuable.
That is, of course, if you can find a merchant that accepts American Express. Amex, the world’s third-largest card network, operates in 130 countries, which might seem like a lot until you consider that Visa and MasterCard are both accepted in more than 200 countries.
Free Boingo Wireless: As a cardholder, you will receive a free membership with the wireless hotspot provider Boingo. This gives you access to more than one million land-based hotspots around the world on up to four devices. The service does not include in-flight Wi-Fi, and multiple users cannot simultaneously access more than one hotspot using the same account.
Purchased independently, this Boingo plan would cost $39 per month. That’s $468 per year, a significant value if you’re already paying for the service or would use it regularly.
- Credit For Expedited Airport Screening: If you apply for and are granted either Global Entry or TSA Precheck and pay the corresponding membership fees ($100 and $85, respectively) with your American Express Platinum Card, you will automatically receive a statement credit reimbursing you for the cost. You can receive one such credit every four years.
- Platinum Dining: You will have access to a concierge who can book reservations on your behalf at more than 1,000 restaurants and make other related arrangements and recommendations. You can see what restaurants are available in your favorite destinations on the Platinum Dining webpage.
- “By Invitation Only” Program: Reserved for Platinum and Centurion cardholders, By Invitation Only gives you access to special events such as sports games, culinary events and auto shows. You can find a full list of available experiences here.
Compared To The Competition
Citi Prestige Credit Card
American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Barclaycard Arrival Plus
Hilton HHonors Surpass
|Annual Fee||$450||$195 ($0 the first year)||$450||$89 ($0 the first year)||$75|
|Initial Bonus||40,000 points for spending $4,000 in the first three months||25,000 points for spending $2,000 in the first three months||40,000 points for spending $3,000 in the first three months||50,000 points for spending $3,000 in the first three months||75,000 points for spending $3,000 in the first three months|
|Ongoing Rewards||3 points per dollar spent on air travel and hotels
2 points per dollar spent at restaurants, and on entertainment
1 points per dollar spent on all other purchases
$250 Air Travel Credit each year
|3 points per dollar spent on flights book directly with airlines
2 points per dollar spent at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets
1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
|5 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with an airline or with American Express Travel
2 points per dollar spent through American Express Travel
1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases
|2 points per $1 spent on all purchases
5% travel-redemption bonus
|12 points per dollar spent at Hilton
6 points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations
3 points per dollar spent on all other purchases
|Intro Financing||Not offered||Not offered||Not offered||0% on balance transfers for 12 months (3% fee)||Not offered|
|Regular APR||15.74%||N/A||N/A||16.49% to 23.49%||15.74% to 19.74%|
|Editors’ Rating||3.9 Stars||N/A||2 Stars||5 Stars||N/A|
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